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The A-Listers Talk About Titanic (1997)
Recently re-released in 3D for the 25th anniversary.
Patrick: Welcome back to another A-Listers! As always, we aren't allowed to talk about the movie until we address how terrible it is to see a movie at AMC! Taylor, would you like to take this one?
Taylor: My pleasure. It seems to be our cross to bear in life to sit directly next to the loudest, rowdiest people in the theatre. We saw this on Valentine's Day, so there were many couples there. Unfortunately, I sat next to a couple in which the boyfriend clearly did not want to be there (I can't say I blame him, I wasn't entirely sold when Patrick proposed it to me for reasons I'll get into later), but his solution was to just talk at full volume to his girlfriend, who engaged fully in this conversation for 90+ minutes. It stopped when they finally just decided to leave. Then, as the movie was wrapping up and as we sat in our third set of seats for the night (trying to avoid the chatterboxes), I heard a man behind us yell "SHUT UP! SHUT THE HELL UP!" to some people behind him. It's always something with AMC.
Patrick: What's new? Well, this column, I guess, because this is the first A-Listers where we've covered an older movie and not a new release. They recently re-released Titanic in celebration of its 25th anniversary (even though 2023 makes 26 years) in 3D (the same restoration they released for the 15th anniversary). Neither one of us had ever seen it before and this seemed like the perfect time. It's either a big-screen movie or a two-tape VHS movie. And we waited for the big-screen. What did you think?
Taylor: I have avoided this movie like the plague for 25 years. This is not to say I had never seen any of it. In fact, I vividly remember tuning in around the time Jack is handcuffed and Rose has to come to save him as the water rises. I watched for about 30 minutes and then turned to my mom and said, "Alright. I'm going to go now. That's all I needed to see." These brief encounters, along with the large cultural recognition that this movie is unbelievably sad, were enough to make me want to pass on every opportunity. That said, I couldn't ever shake the feeling that I just had to see it at some point. Now seemed like as good a time as ever, but I still dreaded it every moment and... yeah. I thought it was traumatizing. It was more sad and upsetting and anxiety-inducing than I could have ever imagined. I'm happy it's over now, but I don't think I'll be rewatching it anytime soon. Or ever again, for that matter.
Patrick: It definitely has quite the reputation. For not only being incredibly sad, but for being elaborate, expensive, and larger than life. Just like the ship! (Sorry, I had to.) My mistake when it came to expectations was thinking that all of those things meant that it would be a long, overly wrought, dragged-out drag. And I was totally wrong! I loved the melodrama, fell for the romance, laughed a ton (Billy Zane is perfectly despicable as the jerk fiancè), was similarly traumatized by the climax, and was totally engrossed the whole time. James Cameron can't write dialogue to save his life, but boy can he tell a freaking story.
Taylor: You definitely have several great points there. The melodrama really works, it's beautifully shot and directed, and the cast is really wonderful. In terms of the romance, my only complaint is that I wish we had it for longer. At a certain point, the truly disturbing imagery we sit with for over 90 minutes begins to outweigh the romance. It got to be too much for me. I'm sure that's part of the allure - how can they fall in love so quickly? But I think there is an alternate universe where this movie has a little more balance to it. I also want to mention that the costumes, immersion, and the practical effects were all tremendous feats. I can't get over how visually compelling this film was. I mean, after all, I wouldn't have been so unsettled if it didn't convince me!
Patrick: To your technical points, the 3D was also dope and showed those things off well. To your point about the romance, I think this is the perfect time to talk about Leo and Kate. They are so charming and cute. I love them - I can totally see why they love each other! Leo went so method for the role that he couldn't get his way back out of it - he still loves 22-year-olds to this day! Sorry, again, but I had to, again.
Taylor: I honestly thank you for making the joke yourself, because if you hadn't, then I would have had to. Yes, they totally have palpable chemistry! That said, I was shocked at how more maturely she carried herself at a similar age to him. If she had been put across a 40-year-old man (not that she should have, obviously), I would still believe it. Leo is boyish in all the right ways in this. I can't imagine a different Jack or Rose. This is the kind of movie that makes even the most cynical of people believe in love at first sight.
Patrick: Alright, let's play some Yes or No. First, the framing device of a skeletally old Kate Winslet perfectly remembering every moment (including some she wasn't even there for!) from 85 years before...it works narratively. Yes or no?
Taylor: No... I'm gonna have to go with no on this one. I think that it's very interesting that Cameron chose to use that entire plot device to introduce the story, or that it wasn't at the very least left on the cutting room floor. The Titanic portion stands so well on its own already and I felt all of those moments were a bit out of place. How did you feel about that?
Patrick: It's pretty clear he just wanted an excuse to do some underwater exploration on the crash(?) site. Next, Jack could've also fit on the wood plank and they could've both lived. Yes or no?
Taylor: The two-decade+ old question. People clearly feel that he could have, so when I watched it I was prepared to be seething in anger, but it doesn't seem like he could! She nearly sank the piece of wood herself getting on, so I don't think it would have sustained him. That said, maybe they should have at least... I don't know... TRIED? That's what gets me. I'm pretty sure several reputable scientists have proven it couldn't happen, so I'm sticking with that answer. The more important question is, how did she survive? I understand that she's not in the water, and that's a huge advantage, but she's still completely soaked. Wouldn't her clothes have frozen onto her and dropped her body temperature far too low? And then sitting in the safety boat with nothing but a blanket to keep your frozen body warm? Suspicious...
Patrick: I'm pretty sure Mythbusters did an episode on it, right? Sounds like an episode of Y2Kidz to me. Last one, this is the best movie we've seen as AMC A-Listers. Yes or no?
Taylor: I can't even remember what I had for dinner last night, let alone when we even signed up for A-List, so I cannot confirm nor deny. That said... I'm leaning toward no because it has given me nightmarish levels of anxiety.
Patrick: I really dug it! It all worked for me. From the high dramatics to the perfect amount of goobiness, it worked for me so much better than I thought it would. This is the third Jim Cameron movie we've seen at AMC in five months. What will they re-release next, Piranha II? (Sorry for a third time.)
Taylor: Thanks for reading, folks.
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